Meet Kay and her son Jake

25 09 2010

It’s interesting how you come to meet people in your life and then find out later there is a purpose to that meeting. Kay and I met at the gym a while back after she started her sessions with Godfather. I’m an early bird. Kay is an even earlier bird. I have the 6a appointment block, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Kay is the 5a appointment block. Anyone that can show up to a session with Chuck and get their butts handed to them has my respect. Anyone that can show up at 5a and do it has my undying love. She’s a big inspiration to me. At 63 with some physical limitations she never gives up. Every week she keeps moving. Every week she gets stronger.

A few weeks ago I happen to mention in passing (her all sweaty, me getting ready to break a sweat) that I was dedicating my Saturday runs with Team in Training to people affected with or by Leukemia and Lymphoma. She said “my son had ALL Leukemia (acute lymphoblastic leukemia)”. I didn’t hesitate to ask if I could run in honor of her and her son and she didn’t hesitate to share her story with me…

My Story (how I responded to my son’s life threatening diagnosis) written 8/31/2010 at almost the 25th year anniversary of diagnosis.

Back in September of 1985 I was married to a great guy and we had two darling boys. After September 6th, 1985 I began the challenge of my life. Our youngest son Jacob had just turned 7 years old and his big brother Joshua was eleven. Jake was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia. We learned more than we ever wanted to know about leukemia. The family spent three years of supporting Jake through chemotherapy, in and out of the hospital, 24 blood transfusions, the chickenpox and lots of “pokes”.

Then he was in remission and doing OK for about a year and a half. During this time Jake’s dad move out and said he didn’t know if he wanted to be married any more. The disease had taken its toll on the family, especially Jake’s dad.

Before I could turn around Jake had relapsed with leukemia in his spinal fluid. The only good part of this diagnosis was that where he had been treated before, the treatment was successful. Now Jake needed an ommaya reservoir (intraventricular catheter) implanted in his head and a portacath implanted in his shoulder to receive his chemo more easily and effectively for the next three years (this reduced the number of spinal taps Jake was to receive). He was such a brave boy considering two different doctors did both these surgeries in one day at Children’s Hospital (a place out-of-town that Jake was not familiar with). Now they only do one surgery at a time as they are considered both together too dangerous.

During Jake’s second three years on chemo, I became a single mother with two teenage sons and no child support at first since I was going through a not so nice divorce. Those were really the stressful years when I would put myself last and started to lose my hair.

This time around Jake wanted to only think about leukemia when he went for treatment and try to be normal the rest of the time. As a mom I had to listen to his wishes and be a supportive as possible. By now he was 12 years old and his older brother was 16. Some of my co-workers would wonder out loud why I was still taking my son to his chemo at the clinic at Mary Bridge (a children’s hospital here in Tacoma). After all he was much older now. I almost bought in to their advice until I asked Jake himself if he still wanted me to accompany him to his chemo treatments. He said “don’t listen to your co-workers; I still want you to come with me to the clinic”. I learned how to not only see my young son, but to really listen to his needs.

During this time Jake got to have radiation for two weeks straight, along with chemo. Unfortunately he was entering middle school and the radiation plus the chemo caused him to lose his hair. Jake was the only boy to get to wear a baseball hat in school (hats were not allowed at this time in his middle school). He got teased as some of the other students would try to take his hat off. He never told me about this till later. He knows that I would have been up at the school in a flash trying to protect him. He figured out how to handle the situation on his own (the things we learn through life’s challenges).

My life was filled with church friends, family, sports, school activity (two sons struggling in school), chemo and therapy for myself. Not the way I expected my life to be when I reached my forties.

Since the end of 1993 I have been through two graduations from high school, two weddings and three grandchildren. More personally on a physical level I have alopecia, had two severed patellar tendons repaired, and emergency appendectomy, a total left hip replacement, put on weight, cataract surgery gone awry resulting in the loss of eyesight in my right eye and a prosthetic eye shell.

Oh by the way I forgot that I also have a port wine stain on  the right side of my face. I sometimes forget about that birthmark since I have lived with it all my life.

Even with all of life’s challenges I consider myself to have a great life. I have been blessed with great children, grand children, church family, friends, co-workers, a job and now a trainer and gym buddies. Now I am a single person with no spouse or children at home and am trying to live life to the fullest. At almost 63 years old I am proud that my body may have aches and pains but I am on no medication. My life seems to be on an upswing now. HOORAH!

My Team in Training Page

$1950 raised so far!

This is week number 9. I have 10 more weeks before I am standing in front of that starting line about to run my first half marathon. Please if you or anyone you know is affected by Leukemia or Lymphoma, I would be honored to dedicate a run to you, your family or friend. Please leave a comment and let’s get to planning!




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